Hargis Seeks Redemption

Some could argue that offensive linemen play the least appreciated position in all of sports. They have to be tough, nasty, and be able to play through almost any injury. When you succeed and beat your man it's expected, but when you fail you have to face criticism from all directions.

This is the life of an offensive lineman, but Jon Hargis wouldn't have it any other way. Entering his fourth-year at Arizona State, and second as an offensive lineman, staring left guard Jon Hargis is determined to get the program back to winning and a berth in the Rose Bowl.

Jon was the no. 3 rated player in the state of Arizona and the 49th defensive tackle prospect in the nation coming out of Red Mountain High School in his hometown, Mesa, Ariz.

It was his dream to play for ASU and now in his fourth-year and second as a starter on the offensive line, Jon figures to play a key role in the success of the team.

"We want to go to the Rose Bowl, we want to have a Pac-10 championship," Hargis said. "They have us at 5, and we want to compete with the big boys as they say. For me, I'm going to try for Pac-10 honors and see what comes along, but I would rather go to the Rose Bowl than be an All Pac-10 player. I'm a team oriented guy." .

Overall, Hargis feels that he is making progress this fall.

"I think I'm doing pretty well," Hargis noted. "Minor mistakes here and there but things I've taken to heart and tried to get better. I feel like I'm coming along pretty well. I mean first group we're becoming pretty tight and we're starting to understand where so and so is and passing off game. I'm pretty happy where I'm at right now, but we've got a long ways to go." .

Hargis knows that there is always room for improvement, and one of the best ways to improve is by working hard in the offseason.

"A lot of explosiveness," Hargis said regarding what he gained since the 2008 season ended. "Trying to get my hips strong and stay low. Just mindset. We have to work harder. The way we worked last year got us a 5-7 record, so we all knew we had to step up. I just worked on shoulder strength, and just getting strong with sitting and punching."

Building on the success he had last year as the team's starting left tackle will be key for Jon.

"It's a whole different kind of area because with tackle you're more on an island and guard you're kind of inside, you've got the center and the other guards so it' s more close up and you get jammed up more," Hargis explained. "I have to stay low and punch faster, being a tackle you can be more patient with your hands but as a guard you have to really shoot them because the three techniques (defensive linemen) are the ones that really try to take off your head. It's a more physical game at guard and more finesse at tackle .

"I feel a lot more comfortable. I'm a year older. Just the confidence of knowing the speed of the game and how everything flows. I performed all right like year, not the best that I could have, so I want to step up this year. Every game is a new experience, I think the things I've learned last year I can just bring into this year and I have a better understanding of how the game is and what I have to do to get better."

The whole front five for the Sun Devils has faced some criticism this offseason after the team averaged just 89 yards per game running the football.

"We all kind of take it as a chip on the shoulder, but we also understand there is going to be critics and not everyone is going to like you," Hargis remarked. "It's a love hate relationship all around. You just have to know what to take to heart but also you realize you can't shut them up until you go out there and perform. We understand that part."

Going up against one of the top defensive fronts in the Pac-10 everyday is definitely a plus for this group and Hargis knows it can only help them in preparation for the 2009 season.

"Lawrence Guy is a great player, and even Saia Falahola is great," Hargis admitted. "They both come off the ball very explosive and hard. It's great for us because we have a really strong defense and a really good defensive front, so going against other teams; it's just going to make us better.

"Especially like Dexter Davis going against Shawn Lauvao. Everyday those guys make us better because if we don't perform we're going to get beat every play, so we have to come out and man up and just come off the ball real hard."

One of the biggest topics of the offseason for the Sun Devils is the quarterback competition following the loss of three-year starter Rudy Carpenter. Hargis doesn't feel that having someone new under center affects the way he has to go about his business as an offensive lineman. However, the team has changed up some things in their offensive scheme, and guard thinks it will benefit them greatly.

"I think we're going to have a better shot because of the new things we're putting in so I think we're going to surprise some people because we've changed some of our technique and some other things to make us better," Hargis stated. "I'm pretty excited about how the offense is looking right now. We're making good strides, and some days aren't as good as others but we just keep working and I think we're coming together pretty well."

Playing for ASU has been a dream come true for both Hargis and his family. Yet, a greater dream might be waiting for him after his days at ASU are over: the NFL.

"I hope so, but I also understand it's a great accomplishment if you get there, but if you don't it's not making you less of a player or a person," Hargis said. "I'm going to school to be a special-ed teacher with learning disabled students and ultimately, probably a high school football coach. If it (the NFL) happens, great, it's been a dream of mine, but if I don't I'm not going to beat myself over the head with it. I'm happy where I am but I have a long ways to go." .

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